Flag Burning Not Illegal in US; Gambhir Has Shared a Fake Quote

Flag burning is legal in the US under the SC ruling, which is a constitutionally protected speech.

Updated
WebQoof
3 min read
Flag burning is legal in the US under the SC ruling that it is a constitutionally protected speech.
i
Don’t fall for fake news, <a href="https://www.thequint.com/news/webqoof">click here</a> to check out <b>The Quint’s</b> WebQoof stories. &nbsp;
Don’t fall for fake news, click here to check out The Quint’s WebQoof stories.  

CLAIM

Former cricketer and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday, 4 September, shared a post on a purported remark of former United States Defense Secretary James Mattis, regarding burning of the US flag.

“Forget Jail: If you burn the American flag, you'll spend two years in the military. I promise you, you'll be cured of the desire to burn a flag ever again. You'll be waving it; saluting it or you'll be lying under it," the post read.

Gambhir's tweet, which also suggested that the same action must be taken against flag burners in India, had over four thousand retweets and 27,000 likes at the time when this report was filed.

Screen grab of the post.
Screen grab of the post.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @GautamGambhir)

An archived version of the post can be seen here.

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

There are no reports on Mattis suggesting a charge of two years in the military for flag burning. Flag burning is also legal in the US under the Supreme Court ruling, which is a constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment.

WHAT WE FOUND OUT

A simple Google image reverse search led us to several meme sites carrying the same post, but without the suggestion, ‘This should be implemented in our country too,’ as seen in Gambhir’s tweet.

Screen grab of the meme.
Screen grab of the meme.
(Photo Courtesy: BALLMEMES)

Using the key words ‘James Mattis burning US flag’, we came across another similar meme, but with a different picture of Mattis.

Suggesting that Mattis never made such a remark, the meme said, 'Not an official quote. Just an awesome idea featuring legendary Marine, and now Secretary of Defense, Mattis.

Screen grab of the post.
Screen grab of the post.
(Photo Courtesy: MEME)

We did not come across any report that quotes Mattis as saying that flag burners in the US will two years in the military.

But Is It Legal to Desecrate the US Flag?

While there have been several attempts in the history of the US to ban flag desecration, the Supreme Court in 1989 ruled that the government could not stop citizens from desecrating the nation's flag and that it is a protected form of free speech under the constitution.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump had endorsed Republicans' proposal calling for a ban on burning the American flag.

In 2016, Trump had also said that anyone found burning the American flag should face consequences, which includes loss of citizenship or a year in jail.

Both Trump’s remarks show that there is not current law mandating burning the US flag as illegal.

In short, Gambhir endorsed a post which was incorrect on two grounds. Mattis did not make such a remark and the law protects flag burning in the US.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on Whatsapp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!